I suppose most of us have heard the words “change” and “transition” enough these days to last us a long time. The small course corrections that we all make daily sometimes (often?) result in significant changes down the road, decisions we make with prayer and an ear to God. And then there are the big changes that take us by surprise, coming sooner than expected, or events we should have been prepared for if we were paying attention.
The Presbyterian Record has been part of my life for some 45 years, challenging me, informing me, encouraging me, delighting me. I am sad to see it go. What will fill the empty place it leaves? As part of the Renewal Fellowship I have appreciated the newsletters, prayer chain, daily devotional, annual conference and website. Now as a member of the board, we are considering what we can offer the church to fill part of the need for conversation, stimulation, encouragement.
We too are in transition as we look for a new executive director to help us fulfil our role in supporting renewal in our churches. Three years ago our General Assembly shone a spotlight on the need for renewal and agreed to take measures to help congregations. In the midst of the controversy on human sexuality, our theological differences have been front and centre, overshadowing the urgent need for individual and congregational renewal. The fellowship recognizes the need for leadership in renewal and we will be working to bring people and resources to congregations.
Other agencies of the church will also be doing their part.
Of course, Jesus Christ is the one who gives us new life. Who breathes in us that Spirit. As we draw near to him, to listen, to fellowship, our souls and spirits will be renewed, each of us, and all of us together.
We have some learning to do, not just to live our faith but to be able to talk about it. What encouragement we give and receive when we tell our story and hear others’ stories of how God has been present; and then to move beyond that, hearing from those outside our faith circle, about others’ spiritual quests, what they believe and need, what they are looking for, what they have found. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” How great is the need in our world today for those who can listen and understand, and offer the living water, the bread of life, to those who are hungry and thirsty.
The Renewal Fellowship calls everyone to pray: not just for our church, but daily seeking God, that He would be working through us in everything to draw others to Him.
The temptation is to pull into our shells. However, that is not what Jesus came for. Christ is out there in the streets, in the arenas, in the malls, in the schools, the hospitals, wherever people are. It takes faith and courage and wisdom in the Holy Spirit to be there with people, where they are, making God visible and audible. Then renewal will come.